Definition of "species"

cmbb at cmbb at
Fri Sep 7 18:15:46 EDT 2001

When the fastest thing that a man could use was a horse, nobody doubted Euclid when he said that the shortest distance between two points on Earth was a straight line.

Where I live on the flat prairie they put zigs in the roads going straight north/south.  We call them correction lines.  You see, the Earth is curved and roads that would go endlessly in straight lines don't work.  And then there is the airplane.  Plot a direct course from here to there when going east/west - but don't forget about the horizon.  

It even gets more peculiar in outer space.  I am told that parallel lines meet there.  (Unfortunately, this is not from personal experience.)

Even, today, centuries after mathematics came up with the concept of zero, we routinely use number systems that do not accurately measure where zero is.  The daily weather report giving the temperature in Fahrenheit(only in America) or Celius uses a zero point that ain't zero.

And then there is non-parametric statistics used to measure the variability in human attitude.

Plato may have thought that he could sit on the ideal chair, but that probably was because his student Aristotle - the biologist - fed him one of those mushrooms which are best taken in small doses.

Euclidean geometry is just one of many models to help us describe and better understand the world we walk on.

Successful mathematical models are no different than biological constructs, they are conceived and made to adapt to changing environmental conditions.

Martin Bailey,
where on a clear day you can see 32 miles to the horizon.

--- Original Message ----- 
  From: Chris J. Durden 
  To: leps-l at 
  Sent: Friday, September 07, 2001 10:12 AM
  Subject: Re: Definition of "species"

  Sure. And the Cosmological "Constant" is constant!
  ..............Chris Durden

  At 04:40 AM 9/7/2001 -0400, you wrote:


    I am somewhat aghast at the responses to what I consider a simple question.
    Mathematics, for example, begins with definitions - and progresses no
    further until each definition is set in stone. "A point is that which has no
    parts." begins Euclid, and goes on to define lines and the like. Upon  these
    definitions are built an elegant structure. Why should the science of
    Biology be any different?

    I can understand the filing of similar species in genera folders, similar
    genera into families, etc., as an attempt to understand kinships about which
    reasonable people might disagree. However, the basic (and as I requested,
    black-and-white) definition of "species" MUST be something all can agree -
    or we are not talking about the same thing.

    Until you get your act together, I shall deem a species to be defined by
    fertile offspring, and I shall deny there is such a thing as a subspecies.
    How can there be under the above definition?

    And I shall go on in my ignorance and isolation enjoying my moths.

    Jim Taylor

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